The contact groups from the Afghan government and Taliban negotiating teams held their first meeting on Sunday evening and discussed the agenda, guidelines, scheduling and other issues related to the direct peace negotiations, according to Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem.
The negotiating teams representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban held a meeting behind closed doors on Saturday after the opening ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations where they created the contact groups.
Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, Nader Nadery, Zarar Ahmad Muqbil, Fawzia Koofi, Enayatullah Baligh, Mohammad Natiqi and Khalid Noor are the seven members of the contact group of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s contact group members are Mawlawi Abdul Kabir, Abbas Stanekzai, Noorullah Noori, Shaikh Delawar and Shaikh Qasim.
“There was a positive spirit. There wasn’t any effort to drive the negotiations towards controversial discussions,” the chief negotiator of Afghanistan Masoom Stanekzai said.
“Violence should be reduced significantly with the start of the negotiations so that we reach a humanitarian ceasefire,” said Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation.
But the Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that establishment of an Islamic government and the release of over 7,000 prisoners of the group will be the first topics discussed.
“Negotiations about the government and the release of remaining prisoners are the topics that will be on our agenda,” Naeem said.
“We want not only a ceasefire but an end to the war,” Taliban negotiator Abdul Salam Hanafi said, referring to their desire to end the conflict in the country.
The Afghan team held a meeting with Abdullah Abdullah and acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar about integrating their plans for the peace negotiations.